Dying Grace

Not along after our Warner was born and then went to be with the Lord, John posted this to Facebook:

“My pastor always says God only gives dying grace on dying days, that is so true. We mourn but not as those with no hope. Today I met my son, today my son met Jesus. All in all a good day.”

Those words still give me chills. Every word he typed was incredibly raw in the moments following Warner’s death. I think those words bring such an emotion out of me because they couldn’t be truer. The Lord really did walk so close the days leading up in preparing our hearts and through Warner’s death and afterwards.

This past weekend we’ve been working on one of the adoption papers that I have intentionally put off as long as I could. The medical and special needs form declaring what needs we are comfortable to adopt. It’s a very strange situation to be presented with a checklist knowing that each box represents children waiting for families. No child was given a checklist of the needs they wanted to inherit or to decide to become an orphan. So, to be on the other end and make decisions that seem so unfair is a very draining process.

I spent a lot of the weekend heavy with the weight of a few conditions that we felt we could check “yes” on but trying to make sure that was the correct decision. We decided to table it for now and pray for the right leading. We are still praying, discussing, and researching. And, that’s when the Lord has really begun to work on my own heart and remind me of that dying grace.

Our pastor this weekend shared from Philippians 3 and went on to close out his sermon talking about this idea of dying grace. How grace is transformative and the Lord makes grace what it needs to be when it needs to be it. And, not a moment before. He’s there in the trenches and doesn’t abandon us when we need Him. When we share His sufferings, we get to know the power of His resurrection.

“that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” -Philippians‬ ‭3:10-11‬

We are still praying and trusting that the Lord already knows our child’s needs. And, no matter how simple or complex, that same dying grace that held us together during Warner’s life will hold us together as we navigate a treatment plan for our child. It really is quite an amazing grace

{If you would like to financially support our adoption, you can do so here: paypal.me/jenlynnphillips}

{If you would like to follow our adoption journey on Facebook, you can do so here: Facebook.com/PhillipsIndiaAdoption}

Our Adoption FAQ’s

Where? We are adopting from India! Our agency works all over the country with many different orphanages in many different states. So, we won’t know exactly where in the country until we’re matched with our child.

What agency? America World Adoption Agency. This wasn’t an easy decision. But, after a whole lot of prayer and then a whole lot of confirmation from the Lord, this is the agency He had for us.

Who? We will be adopting a boy or a girl that has a medical need. That’s such a broad thing to say. The needs range and we’ll get to more specifics of what we’re comfortable adopting later down the process. But, in general, God has done such a work in our lives. Our child didn’t get the option of checking a box on whether they would be born with a medical condition or not. So, why should we be able to turn our backs on a situation that may be a little different? We will work more with our caseworker and pediatrician down the road on what needs we are best equipped to care for in our family.

How old? Likely younger than Jed. We definitely want to keep with birth order with the girls. We’re a little more lax about Jed’s birth order. But, generally, in the past, India has liked to retain birth order. So, likely, that’s how it’ll work out and we’re great with that!

When? India seems to be showing shorter wait times after changing some regulations last year. The general timeline that’s still given is 18-24mos. My prayer is home by the beginning of next summer or even sooner. I would love to have next summer with the girls home from school and all four kids home to work on bonding.

Why India? India has always been in the back of our minds whenever we’ve talked about adopting one day. Honestly, I can’t even fully explain why other than the Lord and now I believe our child is there. We prayed through some other options. But, India still had our hearts. And, once we discovered they only adopt a child with medical needs (under the age of 5) to foreigners and that they liked to retain birth order, it just felt like an exact fit to what we were feeling led by God to do. And, after more research we discovered that India has more orphans than any other country in the world. Over 30 million orphans in India alone.

How’re you paying for it all? Good question. I don’t know. Haha! This is a HUGE step of faith for me and one that I know God has been crystal clear on for us to take. Looking on paper, it doesn’t add up to be able to afford a $35,000 adoption. But, all I know is that God called us to it and He will provide. In the meantime, we are praying a whole lot and doing all we can. John is taking on side projects (video, web, and graphics), we’re selling some things from around the house, I’m cranking out as many sewing/embroidery/crafting projects as I can to sell, and we’ll be doing some fundraisers {Check out our first one here: https://www.bonfirefunds.com/phillips-india-adoption} So, in short, if God doesn’t pull through, we’re sunk. But, I’m {surprisingly and can only be Jesus} at peace because I know He will pull through.

Those are all of the common questions I can think of for now! Thank you all supporting us enough to want to know more!

10 Things While My Baby Daddy was Gone for a Week

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John was out of town for five nights this past week. The longest trip since Jed has been born. I get it that other Mama’s have husbands gone much longer than me. And, let me just say, I’d rather give into the back-in-style-high-waisted Mom shorts rather than have him gone more. So, since I’m drinking ALL the coffee and still trying to recover, I only have energy for a brief top ten synopsis of my five nights alone with a 4 year old, 3 year old and 6 month old.

10) Leaving the airport, I totally thought I had it all figured out. “Oh, I got this.” YOU SO DUMB. One of them is asleep! You pacified the 4 year old with a sip of soda to stop the wailing of Daddy leaving! (You should buy more soda to try that trick again later) They’re strapped in the car seats, so they can’t go anywhere! It’s sweet to think that you’ve already got made…

9) By the time I get home, I had the big kids play outside. There were pooped panties. It was gross. I thought it was my worst poop situation of the week. I was wrong.

8) A {very} newly potty trained 3 year old can poop on the floor of her bedroom and use her feces to paint her wall in the time it takes for me to eat a fast lunch. Yes. Feces painted on the wall. If I could go back in time, I’d either potty train a year ago or just never.

7) Sometimes you ugly cry with a roll of paper towels in your hand, multiple disinfecting items at your feet, poop surrounding you, and drawings on the wall with poop that must resemble early caveman drawings. The 4 year old might say “Oh. Mommy’s crying.” But, not long after go back to general mayhem. The tears might get stronger.

6) You might think poop on the walls could be the only possible thing to induce tears that day. Well, you would be sorely wrong. In the time it takes to send a few text messages, the 3 year old can flush 5 brand new head wraps down the toilet. Miraculously, the cheapest toilet at Lowe’s won’t clog. It’s like the toilet knew John was gone and decided to cut the house some slack.

5) The second ugly cry of the day will cause the children to realize that, in fact, they have broken me. The 3 year old will sweetly say, “Oh, Mommy, don’t cry”. But, the 4 year old will turn on her, complete with actual finger pointing “You made Mommy cry! You flushed the bows!” Both of their Little personalities in crisis mode. Bless.

4) Chipotle is crazy crowded at 12:30pm on a Thursday when it’s your final day to care for the brood. But, thankfully, Angus Jack is not by 1pm. But, as soon as everyone gets settled and the baby finally sleeps, everyone will have to put the circus in the bathroom because the newly potty trained one has to go potty NOW. Instead of “Hold it because otherwise the food will get cold”, I wanted to avoid a bullet point number 8 in a public place, and traipsed to the bathroom.

3) Sometimes, two middle aged women will just stare at me while I take my three kids by myself to lunch at Mama Fu’s. They got a tad bit snarky with “Oh. You’ve got your hands full”. But, I was too tired to respond with my normal “Yes. Full of good things!” And, instead of giving the snark back, I smiled. I should’ve gotten some free edamame for that restraint. Or, maybe my prize was eating out for half of the meals while John was gone because WHO CAN DEAL WITH MEAL PREP IN CRISIS MODE?

2) Trying to take my first pictures for What I Wore while the photog husband is gone and the Littles run amuck? Awkward selfies.

1) I survived! And, more than survived, I actually thrived. These kids are the ones I’ve longed for since I was a kid myself. While I definitely love the fact that John and I parent as a team, I’m glad to know that Jesus will give me exactly what I need when I need it for these Littles

Birds

IMG_9999Okay, I’m always trying to make some kind of special moment with the kids. Before I became a parent, I was the best parent. Like, I was AWESOME. My kids never talked back. They went to sleep promptly at their bedtime. We played educational games. We never watched TV. And, we only ever ate the healthiest of food.

Imaginary kids are so easy.

Now that we all see where I’m headed with this post, I shall give you the latest and greatest of my “precious moments” parenting….

Apparently this is like bird birthing season because we have two nests at our house right now and I see another at the neighbors. Well, the one in the backyard was conveniently built on top of the fireplace exhaust (is that even what it’s called? BEATS ME. I’m from Florida). But, whatever it is, it gets hot when the fireplace is on. So, to avoid accidental scrambled eggs, we’ve been diligent to make sure that loose-hands-Charlotte isn’t allowed near the fireplace switch.
OKAY, TRUTH POLICE! Charlotte flipped the switch on once. But, John {believes} he caught it pretty quick.

Each time we’ve gone in the backyard, we check on the nest. It has been my “I’m rocking this parenting thing. I’m all, check out this nature. Check out life. Let’s observe and learn and cherish this together“.

Why do I think these things?

The girls have been super into it. {okay, okay, other than the very initial discovery and we tried to lift Ella up to look at the nest and she screamed as those we were lifting her up into her demise}.

IMG_0094Several days ago, the eggs hatched. We’ve loved checking on them every day and seeing their little balls of fluff hanging out in their nest. Then, it happened…

So, the girls asked to play in the backyard. Since Jed has been born, they’ve gone out to play in our fenced in backyard on their own. I open the window and they can come in and out the door {okay, okay, not a million times and I may say things like “IN. or. OUT.?!”}. But, it’s been a good little set up lately while I nurse Jed or get dinner ready. So, I’m nursing Jed and looking out the windows at them while they play. Ella whizzes by and swings the door open…
{panting heavily} “MOM!! The bird was flying and walking and hopping and…. The bird fell. We hit the bird

WHAT?!

I immediately stop feeding Jed (yeah, he was thrilled). I lay him on the ground (again, thrilled) and go running outside. At this point, Charlotte runs up. I ask them to take me to the bird. Way on the other end of the yard, I approach a bird on the ground with its wings flailed out and…

UNDERNEATH A TENNIS RACKET

Like a little bird prison. I immediately yell tell Charlotte to remove the tennis racket. I notice the bird is still breathing just fine and just staring around. I start frantically answering for the story.

IMG_0153I start to surmise that the bird was minding its own business, fell, and Charlotte put it in bird prison. I then begin to grasp that the bird prison was an effort to catch the bird and they began to say they wanted to hold it.
Well, I’m panicking now.

HAVE WE PARALYZED THIS BIRD?!

What is my logical next step? Call John. You know, because he’s totally sympathetic to the needs of me and this bird.
His responses were things like:

“Ohmygosh, first thing is to have the kids wash their hands so they don’t get bird germs.”

“It’s just a bird. If it dies, it dies”

Next thing I know, I’m screaming talking at the girls to go inside and wash their hands (because of bird germs?). And, don’t touch Jed. Then, I kept John on the phone while I knelt down by the bird to try and figure out how I can scoop it up to get it back in the nest.

I get down next to it and start to whisper sweet nothings while trying to gather my nerve. Turns out, the bird was a liar and wanted nothing to do with our family moments anymore. Guys, that bird done hopped up and flew away while squawking for backup. Next thing I know, birds are squawking from trees and everyone has been alerted to kill me. The second that bird jumped up I screamed the name of Jesus twice. Cue John bursting out laughing

“Are you screaming for Jesus to help you with the bird??”

Uhhhhh, YES, I am. It is telling its Mama bird to come peck my eyes out.

I realized that it was one of the baby birds and it was obviously just now learning to fly. Just the day before, the birds were in the nest and now all of them were out of the nest. I realized that the girls had nothing to do with the bird falling. They were trying to use the tennis racket to hold the bird and analyze it closer. They were somehow gentle with the racket and no injury to the bird. But, I mean, here’s the deal, if something insane (rather than precious) is gonna go down, it’s gonna go down with us.

Excuse me, I’ve gotta go see if it’s time to put the front porch birds into bird prison yet…

{Linking up with A Little R&R Wednesdays!}

Warner’s Birthday Funnies

You know when something is super sad and you find yourself laughing? The harder you try to stop, the more you laugh. Guys, if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know that I’m always finding something deep to share. Or something completely ridiculous. My life tends to oscillate between those two extremes. Therefore, if something is going to be super sad, it’s likely that some super funny things are going to happen, too.

For example, Warner’s funeral? Terribly sad, right? Yes, completely right. But, God gave us some humor, too. We bought two baskets of flowers for the girls to leave with their brother. They were very kidsy and brightly colored. What we didn’t realize was that they were also full of water. And, because I’m all “We need to make special moments out of this difficult time”, we gave one of the flower baskets to Ella. Approximately 4.5 seconds into holding her flowers, she realized it was full of water. So, every few minutes you heard a big pouring of water from Ella’s flower basket. Because, cmon?! A basket full of water to pour everywhere?? That’s a toddlers dream. I had to keep from belly laughing each time I heard the pouring of water during such a serious time.

That leads to Warner’s second birthday hilarity. So, we got our crap together and I managed to get all three kids out the door to an indoor play place in town. I’m feeling pretty much like Supermom because John had been out of town since the day before (first time since Jed was born). So, I had been all kinds of awesome that morning. I even put everyone in special outfits for Warner’s birthday (lots of Warner blue as we call it and Jed in Star Wars). We swoop into the play place parking lot and I’m ready.

I grab Jed first. I wrap him onto me. Again, feeling like SuperMom. Yeah, that’s right. I just took this long piece of fabric and knew exactly what to do with it. Baby boy is snug and ready to rock. BOOM. Pride always comes before a fall, guys. Learn from me, mmmkay?

Next, I get the girls out and we meander into the overpriced play place that basically has the same toys we already have at home. But, whatever, it’s a special day. So, let’s play with the germ infested toys rather than the ones we have at home. The girls scamper off and are owning place. (Side note: Ella is the sweetest kid ever at these places. Charlotte likes to tell everyone else what to do. Precious.)

All right, this place is bumpin’ because it’s Spring Break. Every stay at home mom in Northwest Arkansas was all “I know exactly where to take my kids to run amuck for a few hours”. Therefore, most of the seats were taken. But, God smiled down on me and saved the only glider rocker just for me. I slip into it and think about how awesome I am. I text John to tell him about all of my awesome. He agrees, because he’s smart.

Then, it happens.

Humph, what’s that warmth? Is Jed peeing in his diaper and I just feel the heat because he’s pressed up to me in the wrap? OH MY GOSH, IT IS WARM AND WET!!!!

I immediately start panicking texting John because WHAT ELSE AM I GOING TO DO?!

Jed could care less that he urinated all between the two of us. He was like a small animal. Peed, settled right on into it and immediately fell asleep. The girls are whizzing (see what I did there?) by and loving their most special time with all of the toys we already have at home. We had been there less than 5 minutes. I can’t drag the girls out because they’ll melt down (can you blame them? Only 5 minutes in germy paradise??). But, I left the other baby carrier and his car seat in the car. While I have a change of clothes for him readily available, I don’t have anything for my soiled shirt.

I decide to assess the outside of the wrap. It appears that I totally did own my wrap job and the pee has been contained between us and the seat of the wrap. I make the executive decision to live with the pee. No one else can tell and who cares? What’s some pee between mother and son?

Time goes on and I honestly forgot about the pee. Gross, but true. I also lost the glider rocker. I had to get up and tell Charlotte to stop doing something. As soon as I vacated it, a woman pounced. Bless her. I admire her gumption.

After I settled onto a wooden bench that I had been excommunicated to, I overhear the chair stealer on the phone. Something about “Did you see her post on Facebook??” And, her conversation ended with a “I’ll let you get back to your newspaper,” at which point, I wondered into what year I had been transported. But, enough about the chair stealer, whom I secretly admire.

Jed wakes up and starts to get hungry. I forgot my nursing cover. So, I decide to just lower him in the wrap and I’ll feed him that way. I’ll be covered to my comfort and he can stay secure to me in case I have a chance to run and steal the glider back. I start to untie the wrap to lower him…

THE PEE.

Guys, we’re talking I could wring the wrap out and a puddle of pee would hit that ground. I’m sure it wouldn’t be the first time to see a puddle of pee on the ground, but maybe the first time from a Mom that walked around in it for over an hour. I start to spazz. My eyes start darting around as though the toys I already own at home can give me a clue on what to do next. Nada.

At this point, Jed’s cries start to gain intensity…along with the looks of all the Mom’s from the state of Arkansas.

Bahhhh.

Okay, we’ve just gotta get to the car. This is when I drop any sense of SuperMom I have left. I go scrambling around to the two ends of this place to gather my big kids. I grab them and say

“We need to go now. Do you want a cookie? Or a cupcake?? We’ll get cupcakes. Come on!”

I didn’t even try anything before start to bribery. I just immediately went to code red of junk food in hopes that they would follow me without any complaints. It worked. They both traipsed after me like they owned me. They did.

We leave and I shove everyone in the car quickly. I check the damage. Me and Jed’s shirts are soaked. The wrap is full pee. I scavenge around the car to see if I have anything I can change into. Maybe having a messy car will finally pay off. Nope. But, if I could fashion a shirt out of a week old dirty diaper or an empty Chipotle cup, I’d be in business.

I get Jed cleaned up, changed, and fed. He’s now living the dream. I, on the other hand, have made a promise of junk food to the big kids. So, I take them to lunch. In my half dried pee shirt.

Best part? It was totally dry by the time we ended up at home and I spent most of the afternoon in the shirt until I remembered it was covered in pee. Is short term memory loss a thing?? Am I the girl from 50 First Dates when it comes to baby pee?

This is only half of the funny from Warner’s second birthday. I’m so grateful for a God that gives us joy even in the sorrow! We’re such a circus and I love it!

Warner’s Second Birthday

I’m a planner. Not a super great one. But, a planner. I see all of the things on my calendar and will think about them a lot ahead of time. Probably too much. Along with being someone that feels all of the feelings, I think all of the thoughts.
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Therefore, when something like Warner’s birthday is coming up, by the time the day has hit, I’ve already felt all of the things and thought all of the things. I talked about it a little bit here, but I think we’ve realized that the month of March will probably always be a minor disaster for me. We even joked that next year we should create a “Sad About Warner” budget for the month of March. Because, apparently, I give up on cooking dinner which leads to a lot of take-out. And, I also wander Target more frequently and hope that a new pair of sunglasses will make me less sad.
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But, with all of the pre-gaming I find myself doing before his birthday, I have been amazed at God’s grace these last two years. Both years, his birthday has been beautiful. And, peaceful. And, joyful. It can only be by the prayers of His people (which we are so grateful for!) and His lavishing of grace. I am SO grateful.
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The day before and the day after his birthday were hard. But, on the day of, me and the kids did a lot of celebrating. John was out of town until late that evening. So, we saved the cake and balloons until he was home. But, all of the celebrating included a shopping trip to pick the right toys for his resting place in Georgia (a friend put his new toys and flowers down for us! And, added a Happy Birthday balloon), a ring that John bought for me that has Warner’s birthstone, lots of pizza and ice cream (W’s favorites while in my belly), fun at an indoor play place, lunch at a new restaurant, a picnic by his tree at home, the happy birthday song with cupcakes and releasing balloons to make it all the way to Heaven to Warner.
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There were lots of sweet memories. Including some pretty hilarious ones which I’ll cover in much more detail soon. But, our family is so thankful for all of the prayers, kind words, and support! You’ve allowed our son to have weight in this world. And, for that, I’ll be forever grateful.

Palm Sunday’s New Meaning

“The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”” -John 12:12-19

Two years ago, Palm Sunday was on March 24th. That’s the day we welcomed our first son into the world. I have never been more awestruck at Easter than I have been these last two years. Loss seems to bring that out.

On that first Palm Sunday, Jesus came in on a donkey.

Lowly.

Humble.

A servant.

Willingly headed to his death.

Jesus may have come quietly on that first Palm Sunday. The disciples may not have been able to understand it all until later. But, on that Palm Sunday two years ago? He came anything but quietly. He came in power and authority. He came as the giver of life. He came as the One that ushers His people from a broken world into a perfect eternity.

That first Palm Sunday, He rode into Jerusalem. A much different scene than my Palm Sunday two years ago. He made a tiny hospital room in Fayetteville, Georgia, become holy ground. There were no palm branches waving. No strength to cry “Hosanna!” But, there wasn’t a person in that room that didn’t sense the magnitude of Jesus Himself that day.

In the days and weeks leading up to Warner’s birth, we prayed. We prayed a lot. We searched every day for even more Scripture to pray over the life God had put under care. I still have my list of Scriptures we claimed and every once in a while, I’ll look through them. But, one of the things that we often prayed was for the angel of death to pass over my womb just like he did for the Israelites as they placed lamb’s blood on their door frames during the tenth plague {Exodus 11-13}. We prayed that the blood of the true lamb, Jesus Christ, would cover over my womb and protect against the angel of death. When we prayed these things, we had no idea how God would weave it all together in the end.

Warner was born on Palm Sunday, March 24, 2013. He was born on the holiday that marks Jesus’ triumphal entry. The holiday that begins Jesus’ walk to the cross. The cross that gives me hope that I will see my son again. The day after Warner’s birth, Monday, March 25, 2013, began the celebration of Passover. That idea we prayed so many times over my womb, over his life, all melded together in the 45 minutes he lived. Death did pass over. One being that we had 45 minutes with him. That, in and of itself is a miracle. Two being that because of the first passover, years ago, the coming of Jesus was mirrored. And, Palm Sunday would happen. Then, Good Friday. Then, Easter. Then, a mother and a father with a shattered heart in a hospital as they say goodbye to their first son. But, they get the chance to live with the hope that it isn’t goodbye forever.

I don’t ever see a Palm Sunday passing again where I don’t reflect on Warner’s birth. Or Jesus’ triumphal entry into our family’s lives on March 24, 2013. Or how I can ignore the meaning of Passover like I did so many years before. There is a God that marks our lives in substantial ways, as long as we’re willing to see. Just like the disciples on that first Palm Sunday, it may take us a little bit to understand it. But, when we do, we can’t help but to wave those palm branches high